Discuss Finances Before Marriage

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It seems like only yesterday they were so little, but now your adult child has announced being ready to tie the knot. What do they need to know?

Nobody enters a marriage thinking it will fail, but the old adage our mothers used, about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, is valuable here. The more aware your children are about what can go wrong after the wedding, the better prepared they’ll be.

Money problems are at the root of many disagreements in marriage, and a major cause of divorce. Often these problems revolve around control and trust.

You can help your marriage-minded adult child address some practical issues early on. Encourage them to sit down with their partner and ask some basic questions. Do they think about money the same way? Are they savers or spenders?

Here’s a quick quiz for them to take together:

When I’m out shopping, I think most about:

a) The stuff I’m getting.

b) The money I’m spending.

If I’m short of money at the end of the month:

a) That’s what credit cards are for.

b) I don’t buy anything.

If I don’t have enough cash for a purchase and I’m not near my bank:

a) There’s an ATM on every corner.

b) I’ll put off the purchase. I hate paying ATM surcharges.

Money makes me feel powerful when:

a) I use it to get something I want.

b) I hold it as an asset.

At the current rate I’m saving:

a) I have no idea how much I’ll be worth when I retire.

b) I can tell you almost exactly how much I’ll be worth when I retire.

Also:

When I put money into savings, I feel:

a) Dutiful.

b) Wonderful.

When I make an impulse purchase, I feel:

a) A rush.

b) What’s an impulse purchase?

When I talk to my friends about money, I’m likely to mention:

a) The great bargain I got.

b) The great undervalued stock I bought.

I am most likely to celebrate a raise and promotion by:

a) Buying myself something special.

b) Jumping in the air and yelling “Yippee!”

I am most likely to react to being passed over for a raise and promotion by:

a) Buying myself something special.

b) Tightening my belt and talking with my boss.

Scoring:

If they give more a) answers, they are basically spenders, if more b) answers, they’re savers. A comparison of scores can be enlightening.

If there’s a big difference, the potential for disagreement is high. That doesn’t necessarily spell trouble, but it means they should be aware about their differing perspectives.

If they are both spenders by nature, it’s good to be aware of that. Neither partner can count on the other to put the brakes on. It can be OK if they are learning their own techniques of self-restraint. But if they don’t learn how to deal with it, there could be financial stress down the road.

If they are both savers, that’s great, but they shouldn’t forget that it’s OK to have a little fun, too.

Another important aspect of money management for soon-to-be newlyweds is financial priorities. Have them take this joint test, answering as honestly as possible:

If we had to tighten our belts, we would be willing to cut these things:

a) right away

b) if necessary

c) maybe for one month

d) not at all

Here is the list:

• Nice things for the house

• Clothes

– Credit card bills

• Entertainment

• Rent or mortgage payments

– Car payments

• Tools or equipment needed for work

• Expenses indirectly related to work, such as taking a course

– Cable TV

• Vacations

People who love each other and who agree on movies, music, politics and home décor may have drastically different opinions about what they’ll give up when money is tight. Of course, if they don’t agree that payments for credit cards, housing and cars can not be cut, they might need some help figuring out their financial priorities —either from you or an independent financial adviser.

It is possible for people with vastly different approaches to money to find common ground. The main thing for them to understand when it comes to this aspect of their relationship is that it’s just like anything else. Dealing with it successfully will require sharing and mutual respect. Asking the right questions before they exchange their vows will help them understand what saying “I do” really means.

This article, “DISCUSS FINANCES BEFORE MARRIAGE” was featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and written by NEALE S. GODFREY. Neale S. Godfrey is a former bank president and expert on family finance.

— ALSO —

The following is a Bible Study and financial tool, put together by Crown Financial Ministries. In this article they give you the ability to ask some of the tough questions before marriage. To view it (and hopefully, use it, so you’re better prepared for marriage), please go to:

BEFORE YOU SAY I DO — Financially

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Filed under: Finances in Marriage Marriage Prep Tools

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